Algonquian peoples in the Massachusetts Bay area include the Wampanoag, Massachusett, Nipmuc, Pennacook, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Quinnipiac. The Mohegan, Pequot, Pocumtuc, Podunk, Tunxis, and Narragansett lived in southern New England. The Abenaki were located in what became Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and eastern Quebec in what became Canada.
When the first Europeans settled in North America, Algonquian peoples occupied what is now New Brunswick, and much of what is now Canada. At this time, the tribes that made up the Algonquian peoples, were regularly at war with their neighbors New York and Pennsylvania that were part of the Iroquois Confederacy (composed of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca nations.) Other independent Iroquoian-speaking peoples, such as the Erie, Susquehannock, Huron (Wendat) and Wyandot, lived at various times along the St. Lawrence River, and around the Great Lakes.
John Eliot (c. 1604 – 21 May 1690) and his sister, Mary Eliot, lived in Roxbury and Dorchester, Massachusetts. John Eliot was born in Widford, Hertfordshire, England. The Eliots emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, arranging passage as chaplain on the ship Lyon and arriving on 3 November 1631. Eliot became minister and "teaching elder" at the First Church in Roxbury and the founder of Roxbury Latin School in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1645.
John and Mary Eliot began to study the Massachusett (Wampanoag) language of the local Algonquian Indians. The Eliots relied on a young Indian named "Cockenoe". Cockenoe had been captured in the Pequot War of 1637 and became a servant of an Englishman named Richard Collicott. John Eliot said, "he was the first that I made use of to teach me words, and to be my interpreter." Cockenoe could not write but he could speak Massachusett and English. With his help, the Eliots were able to translate the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and other scriptures and prayers.
The Eliots translated the Bible into the Massachusett language (Algonquian) and published it in 1663 as Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God. It was the first complete Bible printed in the Western hemisphere. This was no easy feat as the publishing rights had to be secured from King Charles II of England. Translating the bible into a "heathen" language across the Atlantic took extraordinary effort.
John and Mary became friends with many of the indigenous peoples and helped to develop Indian towns including Littleton (Nashoba), Lowell (Wamesit, initially incorporated as part of Chelmsford), Grafton (Hassanamessit), Marlborough (Okommakamesit), a portion of Hopkinton that is now in the Town of Ashland (Makunkokoag), Canton (Punkapoag), and Mendon-Uxbridge (Wacentug).
In 1662, Eliot witnessed the signing of the deed for Mendon with Nipmuck Indians for "Squinshepauk Plantation". Eliot's better intentions can be seen in his involvement in the legal case, The Town of Dedham v. The Indians of Natick, which concerned a boundary dispute. Besides answering Dedham's complaint point by point, Eliot stated that the colony's purpose was to benefit the Algonquian people.
Mary Eliot, married Edward Payson, founder of the Payson family in America, and great-great-grandfather of the Rev. Edward Payson. He was also an ancestor of Lewis E. Stanton a United States attorney for the District of Connecticut. Mary's great, great, great, grand daughter, Alice Bailey, married Captain Samual Davis. Captain Samuel Bancroft Davis of Yarmouth, on Christmas Eve 1891 dreamed 3 times the precise latitude and longitude (52 North 21 West) of a distressed ship before steering off his coarse to rescue it and saving the crew in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. A routine trip from LaHave to Halifax that made an unplanned detour all the way to London, England.